Google+ Reading Teen: Reading Teen Rebuttal: Ode To The Soapbox Girl

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reading Teen Rebuttal: Ode To The Soapbox Girl

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We at Reading Teen also have a Parental Book Reviews site where we put the profanity, sexual content, and violence of the books we read. We've made it our goal to inform parents of content found in YA books today. Parents (and sometimes teens) make the decision on whether or not the book is appropriate for them. We list content and then let people decide for themselves whether or not the book is a good fit for them or their child.


The other day, we received this comment from an anonymous person. Lets call her Soapbox Girl! I struggled back and forth on whether to share this with our followers, but hey, I kind of want to stand on the soapbox now...




Soapbox Girl's Comment:
I know you already did a "review" of [Certain Unnamed Book]. I don't know what your deal is, or how you can rate this book 'mild sexual content.' You said that the sex was implied and barely even confirmed, or something like that. Maybe you want to take a look at pg. 92 in the hardcover edition. Not only does sex occur, but the scene is extremely graphic, as it describes movement and positions and whatnot. I don't know if you just didn't notice, because sex scenes in YA books don't bother you, but it was a pretty big scene to miss. I know that in the past you've been perfectly comfortable with a LOT of questionable content, which is funny to me as you claim to be a Christian and all...but you might want to adjust your rating. The whole purpose of this site is to inform readers (especially parents) of content in books, and with [this book] especially, you've done a very poor job.

I don't read your blog anymore because I got tired of reading about your hypocrisy, claiming to be concerned about content while recommending books with heavy content in them, but now you're just being negligent. You need to fix the 'mild' rating to heavy, and you might want to take a look at pg. 92. You had no problem spotting the scene in [another book], and this one is way more graphic. If you see yourself as a helpful tool for parents and teens with sense, you might want to get serious about accurately recording the content in the books you review.
My Rebuttal

Comment breakdown

Soapbox Girl: I know you already did a "review" of [a certain book]. I don't know what your deal is, or how you can rate this book 'mild sexual content.' You said that the sex was implied and barely even confirmed, or something like that. Maybe you want to take a look at pg. 92 in the hardcover edition. Not only does sex occur, but the scene is extremely graphic, as it describes movement and positions and whatnot.

It's my turn scooch over a little: You are absolutely right, our bad. No arguments there.

Soapbox Girl: I don't know if you just didn't notice, because sex scenes in YA books don't bother you, but it was a pretty big scene to miss.

scooch, scooch: Hmmm, well if it's me, NO, sexual scenes don't bother me that much. I don't like over the top or tons of gratuitous sex but, I'm married with five children, so I can handle it. I am very cautious when it comes to allowing Abigaile, my sixteen year old daughter, to read sexual content. Austin, who is thirteen, is at a different level than Abigaile, with regard to sexual content. Andye feels the same way about Kit. Hence the reason we do this.
Andye and I even disagree sometimes on what is appropriate for certain age groups. (Andye and I don't disagree very often :) Haha) 

Soapbox Girl: I know that in the past you've been perfectly comfortable with a LOT of questionable content, which is funny to me as you claim to be a Christian and all...but you might want to adjust your rating.

Get off, it's my turn: I don't even know where to begin with this one. I'm not even sure Andye and I have ever claimed to be Christian on this site. We are, but it has very little to do with Parental Book Reviews. Being a Christian is not the only reason you'd want to mold your children into moral adults. I believe in taking a stand for what I believe in. However, we are not out to change any one's views or be pushy in any way, shape or form. That is one big reason why Reading Teen and Parental Book Reviews are separate. We want to allow our followers to choose whether or not to click the link at the bottom of our reviews. I'm thinking that Soapbox Girl is not on the same page with us. Yes, I do claim to be a Christian, however, I love to read YA books and take all content with a grain of salt. I am not easily offended. I enjoy a good steamy, romantic, action, violent, bloody book as much as the next person. Our rating scale stays as is!

Soapbox Girl: The whole purpose of this site is to inform readers (especially parents) of content in books, and with [this book] especially, you've done a very poor job.


O.K. would pushing be wrong? First of all, I'm so glad you get the whole purpose of Parental Book Reviews. We are human, we got it wrong on this one. Thank you for pointing that out to us and being so kind and Christian-like. 

Soapbox Girl: I don't read your blog anymore because I got tired of reading about your hypocrisy, claiming to be concerned about content while recommending books with heavy content in them, but now you're just being negligent.


This box is getting a little wobbly: I'm so sad to lose a follower, especially since you didn't see our hearts in our work. Let me explain again... We write down content of the books we read, link them to Parental Book Reviews at the bottom of each book review post. We rate the books on Reading Teen based on how much we ENJOYED the book (writing, plot, characters) , NOT content. Content is for parents, and they decide for their own teens, NOT us. Also, I would like to point out that Andye, three teens, Janeth (Andye's mom), one very sweet Gabrielle from The Mod Podge Bookshelf and I try not to be negligent. We make mistakes and regret when it happens, it is not our intention. We do not get paid for what we do. So, technically, you can hold us to a certain standard, but putting complete faith in human would just be ignorant on your part. The fact that we do this at all is worth something... right??? 

Soapbox Girl: You need to fix the 'mild' rating to heavy, and you might want to take a look at pg. 92. You had no problem spotting the scene in [other book], and this one is way more graphic.


Ugh! You look so tall up there:  We will adjust the rating to [that book] according to our rating scale on the Parental Book Reviews site, since we designed the site and spent a lot of time and effort on it. I don't think a demand is the way to handle this, since we are doing you a favor in the beginning. The reason why we had no problem with [the other book], is simply because we usually rate books with heavy sexual content... Heavy! Sorry...our mistake. We will fix it as we see fit.


Soapbox Girl: If you see yourself as a helpful tool for parents and teens with sense, you might want to get serious about accurately recording the content in the books you review.

Oh, crap you shattered the box: Our opinion is that we think our followers are intelligent, have amazing common sense and can decide for themselves what is appropriate based on the facts presented. Our goal with the PBR site is to provide a useful tool for teens and parents. In *mock saluting you* Yes, ma'am we will stay very serious about accurately documenting the content and working just a little harder while we sit and read YA books for pleasure. 

We are so appreciative to you for letting us know what we can improve. Thank you Soapbox Girl, for sharing your honest opinion, and so graciously expressing your heart in a way that compels us to hear your point. You obviously have a way with people. Have you ever thought about bringing your soapbox here to Washington D.C, to establish a career in politics?


In conclusion

Parental Book Reviews is basically the "Mommy" part of Andye and me. Let me be clear on a couple of things... Just because we add content to our reviews does not mean in any way that it affects how many chess pieces we give it. I have read books that I absolutely love with very heavy content, give it five chess pieces. Parental Book Reviews is NOT a censorship site. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Agnostic or an Atheist etc. parent, I'm sure you want to raise your children/teens in light of whatever it is you believe. One common goal between all of us is to give our children the appropriate materials to read as they grow older and learn. Parental Book Reviews wants to help you do that. I know some may disagree, bottom line, we saw a need and it is in our heart to help fulfill that need. We are not perfect in any way, plus we have three teens that help us track down content. So, if we do make a mistake, please forgive us and let us know... we will fix it.

We have started accepting requests from teens and parents (or anyone else) who would like us to review a particular book (request form).  As you can imagine, this can be quite costly, so we have decided to open our website up to donations.  Please do not feel like you have to make a donation to request a book. ~Amy 

If you would like to support Parental Book Reviews and find what we do helpful and useful please donate here!






Be sure to go and have a look at Parental Book Reviews!


47 comments:

  1. That was very well handled.
    I love y'all's blog; it's an excellent tool that helps me to make informed decisions on what it is I'll be cramming into my brain. My mom loves it too. I told her yesterday about the ATU content review and how I wouldn't be buying it at the signing this Friday as planned, and she was very glad that I had decided against it, even though I'd been really looking forward to reading it. She sends along her appreciation for what y'all do. I may be 23 YO but she and I still care about what I choose to read as a Christian Catholic. Building a correct sense of morality is a lot like building a bridge; the biggest part of the job is early on when it's being constructed, but there's a lot of maintenance and general upkeep involved.

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  2. I have been following your site for almost a year now and I have to say this....I DO use your site as a VERY useful tool to use with the literacy group I run. The kids I'm dealing with are inner-city kids who live in low income housing....they often times lack parental guidance at home and with their newfound love of reading it's sites like yours that help me and my volunteers when we just can't read enough.....your site is fun and exciting and the kids and teens love ALL the input you give....so to the subject of Soapbox Girl.....I do believe she was a bit harsh with her assessment of your review....we all make mistakes and as you put...it was your bad....done and overwith.....I will say though that it's reviews like yours and everyone involved with this site that have helped with my volunteer work so I will say GREAT JOB!!! We base a lot of our buying lists based on your reviews!!! Especially Austin's (he's kind of our favorite :) sorry ladies!) so please keep up the good work....

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  3. I don't have children but I don't think forbidding teens to read or watch something is always the best way. That's why I say that what you're doing here is great because you're reading WITH your teens, the same books, so you can talk to them knowing exactly the world where they're living and what really interests them. Good job!

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  4. Hi everyone! Great post and so sad Soapbox Girl didn't "get" what you are about and came across "judgey." At least a good opportunity to use this as an example to clarify to anyone else that might impose their own views of what you should be or thought you were. :)Well said and it makes sense to me. Love the chess pieces are how much you enjoyed the book, not content explanation. I think I need to add that to my blog explanation. Good point! :)

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  5. Well said, I totally agree with everything you said. In the end you provide the reviews but its up to the parent to know what their child is reading. I am tired of parents trying to defer their parenting to others when it comes to television and books. They should do the research and know what's going on with their kids. I love to read and so do my kids ages 1-16 yo and I know everything they read and buy their books. I check your reviews as well as others and make the judgement myself. Thanks for doing such a great job :)

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  6. Wow. Bringing to your attention a mistake that you MIGHT have made is one thing, but slamming your efforts because of that mistake is downright unacceptable. Sorry you had to go through that.

    Also, while I might use your site for content information, I would NEVER use only ONE place as the be-all, end-all source of information, no matter how "good" I think the information is (especially if I'm going to go ballistic if I don't agree with their opinion!)

    Keep up the good work!

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  7. I am a newer follower of your site but I have become a big fan. I appreciate what you do. I have 2 children, 6 and 12. As a parent I search out information before I let me kids read a book, your site is a great resource. As a parent I know that the ultimate responsibility for guarding my kids against content rests with me. I usually read a book myself before I let my children read it. It is so easy to miss something as far as content goes and I appreciate the fact that you choose to help us parents out. Still, the responsibility rests with me. Thank you for what you do!

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  8. Okay, she's no longer a follower. I've *become* a follower because of this post.

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  9. You showed a lot of grace and maturity in that response, admitting to what was a mistake (I probably never read the book, so what do I know?) and moving on. I really respect you for writing this post.

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  10. really if that person didn't like the blog well then what was she doing here?, maybe she should start her own blog if she freaks out about mistakes in other people's blogs.

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  11. Thank you guys, for all your supporting comments. We have the best followers, I'm sure of it!!!

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  12. I started following your blog a few weeks ago. You do very well. I don't have children but I do want to know what is out in YA. Some of the best writing is being done in YA. As a site you job is not to censor. It is to inform others. If a person wants to censor what their children read then they should do it themselves and not expect others to step in and play the role of parent. Well thought out response, though. I enjoy your blog.

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  13. Guys, thank you so much!!! I can't tell you how much I just love this blogging community and all of the people that I've gotten to know through this blog! You guys are incredible, and so encourage. It can be disheartening to hear the things that were in that unpleasant comment above, but you guys made me feel like what we're doing is important....even if we're not perfect! :D

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  14. I'm a YA librarian and I use you guys all the time to help me pick out books for readers (especially tweens) and I tell parents about you guys all the time too! I do remind them though that it's a blog run by human's so it's super important to check out a book for yourself because sometimes mistakes happen or (OMG!) people have different opinions.

    I love you guys and really appreciate what you do. I also really appreciate how measured and mature this response was. There were some very funny parts there but really, well done, I probably would not have been as reasoned or mature about it.

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  15. Well. That was entertaining. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your Parental Reviews. I like to give a heads up when I do reviews, too. In fact, too much adult content DOES impact my rating. That said, I don't care how you do it, I am just glad you give us both options. It's kind of like the book version of screenit.com.

    Since you have a hater in the audience, I think that proves you are insanely popular. I'm applauding you.

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  16. Excellent response. I am a parent and I feel that, even though I respect your opinion, it is my job to censor what my teen listen's too, reads, or watches.

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  17. Remember, you don't have to be perfect to be wonderful...twist on a quote by ANNETTE FUNICELLO. Thanks for what you do!!!

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  18. My answer to this one would be "you can't please everyone, all the time." Ok, you made a little mistake about some content, but this anonymous poster is taking things too far. And I don't think being a Christian (I'm catholic) has anything to do with what I read. You teach your child morals in many ways, including your actions. They learn more from how you handle situations than from what you tell them to do anyhow.

    I think your blog is very good, always informative, updated frequently and lots of fun! Having a parental rating section is a kindness you do. Thank you for having this blog! I enjoy reading your reviews, entering your contests, just having fun with books!

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  19. My comment deserves to be longer given the topic, but you nailed it. Sounds like she should start her own blog targeted at people like her. I think you guys do a great job. I agree with parental guidance is a sliding scale. We make our recommendations according to our own values and the relationships we have with our individual children. My view of Twilight was different than other parents. I didn't want my 10 year old reading it, mainly because she isn't head over heels over boys yet. She would be bored and miss what is good about the books. I can talk to her about the last book. Then I read a book blogger that was upset about the casualness sex without being married in Fire. I was ok with that one, but Hush, Hush & Graceling only have kissing scenes and I put them on her "to read when older" shelf because they are steamy. So no blogger is going to have a perfect system, but all bloggers out there are giving parents a preview if is even on the radar. The only way to be for sure is read it yourself. Also Christians so don't corner the market on morality.

    Thanks I appreciate what you do.

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  20. I like French fries

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  21. That person doesn't know what he or she is talking about! She's not going to read your blog anymore because of one mistake? Seriously? I love your blog, and I especially like that you list the content of each book. Being a teenager, I really like to know what's in my books before I read them. You guys handled this situation very well. Keep up the hard work!

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  22. On one hand,Soapbox girl is right- you must be careful and cautious about how you review books. Everyone's standard of a good, appropiate book is different,but my standard is this: is the book edifying? is it appropiate? would I be embarrassed if Jesus Christ walked in on me while I was reading it? On the other hand, you can only give your honest opinion when reviewing a book, and I believe that is what you did. You didn't catch some questionable content, so what? No one should rely on one person or one site to provide all the info you need about a certain book. So in other words, BRAVO! :)

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  23. Wow! I think that Soapbox Girl could have put her message across in a much friendlier manner. I think she's wrong in relying so heavily on the reviews and ratings of a single blog and reviewer. Obviously, your ratings serve as a rough outline of the nature of the book and your subjective view of whether it's appropriate for children or not. However, the reader should do their own research and take into account other viewpoints before making a decision as to whether it is suitable for children. It's sad that your sincere efforts have been brought into question.

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  24. I appreciate the fact you never got emotional or mean in your response. I would have been highly offended by her comment. If you had made a mistake in a rating, which it sounds like you acknowledge you did, it would have been easy for her to just email you and say so. Also, I'm a relatively new follower, but I've gone back and read through a lot of reviews for my personal use. I don't recall you, or anyone, claiming to be Christian. I haven't seen any traces of hypocrisy.

    It really is unfortunate that she feels so strongly about your "mistake" to stop being a follower. I hope he/she finds their needs met somewhere else.

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  25. Al in all, I think your responses were quite normal, and I think it was the Soapbox Girl who misunderstood the purpose of your site and ratings. I totally agree too that there are books that have some very graphic content but still they are great and fully deserve a 5 star rating.

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  26. You definitely handled it the right way, Amy. I think it's awesome that you guys have a Parental book review blog. I just wish more people knew about it!

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  27. Hi, I am a new teen reader of your website, a *Very Careful* teen reader, haha. I use your site as a very important resource in choosing my books. Once upon a time when I was a tween, ALL books were clean...things changed. Several times I have NOT read a book because of your site, and I am finding your site is becoming increasingly wonderful for my sense of concious(sp?). What you responded to that soapbox girl was *very* well handled. I like how you admitted your faults, but still kept your composure(if you can do that whilst writing...). I don't think that she overreacted, but you didn't either. You kept a very calm demeanor I hope helped the girl understand. But while she has a point, It's obvious that you guys try your hardest, and yes, everyone makes mistakes. I really like this site and how the moral values are kept high, keep up the good work, I'm rooting for you guys!!!! <3 And thank you *so* much for the amazing content reviews for this ridiculously moral teen! hehe :)

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  28. Well, I think your reviews are amazing. I can never find fault with any of them, and they always help me steer clear from the bad books. I really appreciate that you take your time to do this.

    Soapbox girl should know, however, that it's truthfully your opinion. If that's what you believed was mild, then it's mild for you. It just might be heavy for her. She has to understand that all of your reviews are your honest opinions, including the ratings.

    Linda

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  29. Wow. I can understand being upset about too much sexual content in a book. I have accidentally falling into reading more of that than I wanted to. BUT I have to say that if you are giving a website all the power there, you are need to look at yourself. When reading a book, if it becomes something you don't want to read then put it down and stop reading. Teach your children personal responsibility.

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  30. I am 22 years old and love YA books and dont mind reading books with sex scenes etc in them but if I had children and wanted to make sure it was suitable for them your site is an awesome one to use and one I would reccommend :)

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  31. I absolutely love your blog. You handled the situation very well. I know that someone else has already said this but we can't make everyone happy. I use your blog frequently when I'm putting titles together for a book order. Keep up the good work,

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  32. I agree with everything you said in regards to Soapbox Girl's attack. She was very aggressive when there was no need to be. Understanding that people make mistakes because humans are fallible and forgiving them for that fallacy is a lesson taught to Christians, at least at my church anyway.

    Also, as you said this site is to simply inform parents that the content is there, and not to put judgment on it.

    I think you are all doing a wonderful job, and I love reading your reviews. Keep up the good work!!

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  33. I am walking a thin line on this one. I too am not bothered by Sex within a YA book because It is something that is true in a lot of teens lives. So why should it not be in a book read by those who may/are experiencing these situations? Where I am not comfortable is addressing this "unhappy" reader of your blog ON your blog. This is not a line by line place to air the dirty laundry! Simply stating, thank you for your concern and that we are sorry that you have chosen to not read our reviews anymore and that we find this an unfortunate circumstance. We stand by our reviews and and hope that readers realize that these reviews are just that....Our Opinions of the books we read. Everyone has a right to express but as a site set up to review and be read by those who are looking for a fair and honest review I am sorry to say you are held to a higher degree of Scrutiny. Continue the good works.

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  34. I think you guys handled the situation well and with dignity. It's just sad that this person felt the need to in a in a way freak out on you guys.

    Lane

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  35. I think your blog is great and I think you handled this situation very well. :) She should know that your not the one responsible for what other people let their kids read you simply give 'em a heads up on content and they make their own choice.

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  36. I think you handled the situation really well.
    You're putting your time and effort into writing these posts and I'm sure lots of people are grateful. Try not to let it get to you, and keep up the good work.

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  37. I'm sorry you had to go through this. I think that it is each parent's opinion on what to let their child read and it should be based on anyone person's review. I have different guidelines about what people that young should read then others. I've found that some parents get really freaked out if there is a sex scene in a book and they won't let their children read it, but they have no problem letting them read The Hunger Games where young children try to kill each other. Each person is different and it should not be based off a just one review. I think you handled this situation really well.

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  38. You handled this well and I'm glad you posted this. If someone doesn't have the guts to put their name on a comment, maybe they should just keep their mouth shut in the first place. Also, if this moron stopped reading your blog -- how did she notice the "problem" in the first place?

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  39. I am sorry that you have faced such harsh criticism and comments - I just want to let you know that your efforts are appreciated, and that I really love reading your reviews. You handled it in a wonderful manner - kudos to you!!!! :)

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  40. I think that is good that your blog has a parental ratings section as many other blog don't, and it is a good way for parents/teens to know the contents of a book before they read.I think that it really depends on an individual's opinion how a book's content should be rated so you weren't wrong to rate that book as you did .

    Overall I think that the parental raitings for each book is very informative and also a good rough guide for readers. But, it really is up to the reader's/parent's own opinion to judge whether it is suitable for them or their child to read based on the ratings/ their own knowledge, so they shouldn't be accusing you of making a mistake.

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  41. Whoa! I think teens will self censor if they don't think a book is right for them. Good post, guys.

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  42. I understand exactly what Soapbox girl says but she may have been just the slightest bit harsh because hey, you can't make everyone happy. I'm only 14 and my mom is okay with me reading certain books but nothing graphic. Even if there's a review she makes sure it's safe as do I in the the library and then I read. So basically its not reading teens faults they ahve a different opinion than soapbox gir. Your supposed to look at the book before you read not blame it on someone else. ITs none's fault but your own soapbox. Reading teen is a great website so don't let this small mistake bother you.

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  43. She must have some kind of mental illness if she says she doesn't like you guys' blog! Really! Even if she says she1s got reason to stop liking your blog, tell her to create her own freaking blog, see if she can do better, and stop rambling about silly mistakes (that, by the way, DON'T EVEN EXIST!!) on your blog!

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  44. Wow, so proud of you. That was handled so well and well thought out. Most people may have reacted to her negative comments and trashed her back, but you acknowledged that there was a mistake and your response was very mature. I don't sensor my kids's reading and I realize there may be some adult situations in books they may pick up just like we run into scenarios in real life and in watching televison where questions arise. I can't place my kids in a bubble and shield them from things I don't want them to know or see. We don't swear around my kids, but there have been instances where we were in public and someone has dropped the F bomb or someone is fighting with someone else. Kids and young people are curious and very observant. I've taught my kids what adult language is and they know not to use it and the same goes for things they may come across in books/ t.v. and in real life. How many times have you seen two teenagers doing some heavy petting in public. I've run into that a few times. It's the world we live in, you can't censor, but you can educate

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  45. WOW I DON'T KNOW IF I COULD HAVE HANDLED THAT PERSON SO WELL SHE KEPT REPEATING THAT YOU WERE WRONG AFTER THE FACT YOU ACKNOWLEDGED AND APOLOGIZED PLUS SAID YOU WOULD FIX IT!!!

    SHE WAS JUST BEING A JERK TO BE HONEST WHAT A LOUSY PERSON TG SHE IS GONE SO NEGATIVE!!!

    ashtreygonesmokeya@yahoo.com

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  46. wow it's one thing to point out a mistake but another to be so immature and bash a person and than to bring up religion ...what was up with that.

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  47. What is with people in this world?! That's really all I have to say.

    That was well handled (and funny to read).

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